One Lawyer Does The Media's Job
by L. Brent Bozell III
July 2, 1997
Throughout the Clinton years, the national media have often
turned up their noses at amassing evidence in the multitudinous Clinton
scandals. Usually the only way reporters get dragged kicking and screaming
into scandal stories is by someone taking Clintonites to court. One lawyer has
made it his job to do the work untouched by a battalion of supposed reporters.
He is Larry Klayman, and he runs a group called Judicial Watch.
The media run hot and cold on Klayman, and neither
temperature is comfortable. When the media run cold, he and his evidence are
ignored completely. When he's making a scandal sink in to the political
culture despite the media's censorious ways, they're hot to take after him
with cudgels. A typical Klayman profile can be found in a recent edition of
Time magazine, where Richard Lacayo began: "Even in the fang-baring world
of Bill Clinton's most dedicated pursuers, Larry Klayman is in a class by
The scandal Klayman spurred Time finally to cover is
Pentagon public affairs boss Kenneth Bacon's drive to leak Linda Tripp's
personnel file to his former Wall Street Journal colleague Jane Mayer. The
media had jumped all over the Mayer story that Tripp failed to disclose to the
Defense Department an arrest on her public record - a trumped-up teenage prank
charge of theft that police quickly dropped. Through depositions, Klayman
first got Pentagon aide Clifford Bernath to testify that Bacon ordered the
leaking of the Tripp file. Then on May 21, Washington Times reporter Bill
Sammon reported Klayman got Bacon to admit he orchestrated the Tripp release -
a violation of the Privacy Act. But Sammon had another bombshell, recounting
that Bill Clinton promised in 1992, when the Bush State Department
investigated Clinton's passport file, that "If I catch anyone using the
State Department like that when I'm President, I'll fire them the next
National media coverage? A CNN mention, and then a month
later, Time's Klayman article, neither of which used Sammon's unflattering
clip of Clinton-speak.
Klayman is digging into the Pentagon's Linda Tripp-bashing
as part of a lawsuit into the FBI files scandal, which the media buried
quickly within a month in 1996. It's funny how the media used to care about
the privacy of government employees. They still care about Clinton loyalists
who they think have gotten the shaft - look at how they wave their hankies at
Webster Hubbell, a liar and a thief. But government employees who don't love
Clinton apparently have no rights, don't deserve a defense.
Take as Exhibit A none other than Jane Mayer herself. In a
passionate letter to the editor of The Washington Post in April, Mayer
announced that Tripp's supposed police record is of great public import:
"Ms. Tripp and her lawyers have managed to make the issue of her failure
to disclose the full truth about her past into a question of her privacy
rights. Was it unfair of the Pentagon to have confirmed to me that as far as
it knew, Ms. Tripp had no arrest record? Clearly, such an answer was seen as
harmless, even exculpatory. Was it unfair for me to write - accurately - about
Ms. Tripp's clouded legal past? I'd argue that when an unknown individual
steps forward to accuse the highest elected official in the country of
criminal behavior, the public has every right to know as much as it can, not
just about the charge, but also about who the accuser is and what sort of
credibility she might have."
But that's not how Mayer saw it in her 1994 Clarence
Thomas-bashing book "Strange Justice," written with New York Times
reporter Jill Abramson. On page 282, they protested the harried October 1991
search for information about Thomas's unconvincing accuser, Anita Hill:
"While Danforth hunted for more information that could discredit Hill in
the harried days leading up to the hearings, the White House counsel's office
became a virtual war room overseeing a parallel effort. The propriety of the
White House counsel - the lawyer to the institution of the presidency -
engaging in a campaign against a private citizen was not addressed."
Imagine them applying that standard to Bruce Lindsey, Craig Livingstone, or
Kenneth Bacon. Or Bill Clinton.
This Pentagon leak on Tripp implicates not only Bacon, but
Defense Secretary William Cohen, who lied on "Fox News Sunday" when
he said Bernath released Tripp's file on his own, when Bacon personally told
Cohen he'd authorized the release, and Cohen's chief of staff called to scold
him for it. None of the networks followed up on Bacon's leak (or who in the
White House may have ordered it). It's sure isn't because of unavailability:
Cohen appeared in the last month on ABC's "Good Morning America,"
CBS's "Face the Nation," NBC's "Today," and PBS's "NewsHour."
Improper government leaks? Steve Brill, call your office.
Voice Your Opinion!
Write to Brent Bozell
Home | News Division
| Bozell Columns | CyberAlerts
Media Reality Check | Notable Quotables | Contact
the MRC | Subscribe